When talking to CEOs I often find that there is confusion about marketing, which is often not the CEO’s core area of expertise. Sometimes I hear statements that are misconceptions about marketing, so I thought I would highlight a few, leaving you something to think about as you plan for the coming year.
Myth #1: We don’t really do marketing.
The follow-up question I ask when I hear this statement is: “When you say you don’t do marketing, how to you tell prospective customers about your company?” I may hear the response, “We just focus on building relationships, we don’t advertise.” What is marketing? According to the Oxford dictionary: Marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” And what is promoting? Promoting is simply publicizing a product to increase public awareness and sales. The fact that you don’t advertise in magazines, newspapers or online doesn’t mean that you don’t do marketing. You just don’t advertise. Advertising isn’t marketing; it is only part of how you can communicate when marketing. Building a relationship with potential customers and communicating with them to create awareness and preference for your company is another way of saying that you are indeed marketing.
Myth #2: I know what our customers want.
Really?! Are you exactly the same as your target audience? A 45 year old male product manager planning to expand his product line to include an offering more targeted to women once explained to me that he knew his sales would increase because now he was going to offer it in pink…and even purple. I was so stunned at his assumptions that I was speechless. (Yes, this really happened!) What CEOs need to keep in mind – and ensure other decision makers remember is: Your opinion while interesting, may not be relevant. That sounds harsh, but remember that you probably aren’t your target audience, may not match the profile, have the same needs and your level of product or service knowledge is different from your potential customers. Reach out to those that are a closer fit to your target audience in the company or friends/colleagues outside the company to better understand what prospective customers values and perceptions are. You might be surprised at what you find out!
Myth #3: I don’t understand this frenzy over social media; we don’t need to do anything with those sites since that’s not how customers buy from us (today).
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Pinterest…the list goes on and on. It seems there is always a frenzied rush to jump on the latest social media trend – or completely ignore it. Companies can easily devote too much time and energy to social media because they want to be seen as innovators that get there first: “We have to get a presence on the new “FaceYouYelpterest” site before our competitors!” But companies are more likely to ignore these sites because they don’t think their customers interact much using social media. Social media is just a vehicle for communication, and is ONE component in a carefully considered communication strategy. However what does get overlooked and why this is Myth #3, is that the changing demographics of your customers may mean that your future prospective customers will use social media sites to gather product/services information and learn about businesses, even if your current prospects aren’t. Older decision makers are being replaced with younger more internet savvy, smartphone-carrying decision makers. And employee demographics are changing as well. Participating in social media should be a well-considered strategy that plans not just for today’s customers but to attract future customers as well as key employees based on changing demographics.
Here are some myth busting questions you should be thinking about:
1. How do prospective customers learn about our company and our products or services? How does that align with our “marketing” activities? How can we better communicate to build more awareness?
2. When we think about our prospective customers, are we assuming we know what they really want because we know the product and service so well? Are we really the same demographic or psychographic profile and how can we get broader feedback which might better inform and improve our perspective?
3. Are our potential customers looking at and using social media now and which sites are they looking at for information? Which social media sites might future employees be using? How might mobile phones be used to accessed information on our company and its products?
As the President of Accelerate Marketing, LLC, Elizabeth Andreini, is the “secret weapon”
CEOs turn to at key growth points when they need to transform marketing and product
management to grow their customer base, increase revenue & scale their business. In
addition to providing experienced executive insight and guidance, Elizabeth often works
as an interim CMO or VP to provide the hands-on leadership needed to rearchitect
marketing and product management and improve execution from the inside.
Elizabeth Andreini, founder & president of Accelerate Marketing, LLC
Accelerate Marketing, LLC
206-769-3420 or email@example.com